“This is the first step for the Biden administration in this area,” said Katie Keith, an advisor and research fellow at Georgetown University who has closely followed numerous civil rights litigation disputes. “This is far from the end for them.”
Alexis McGill Johnson, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, urged Mr. Becerra to act quickly to go beyond Monday’s announcement and pledged the group’s help to enlist support for a broader change in government health regulations.
“Planned Parenthood stands ready to continue working with the administration on the next steps to lift the harmful Trump-era rule and ensure that all people have access to the health care they need,” Ms. Johnson said.
Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act provides comprehensive civil rights protection in the healthcare sector that eliminates discrimination based on race, color, national origin, gender, age, or disability in “health programs or activities” that receive federal funding. According to the Obama administration’s 2016 interpretation, healthcare providers and insurers would have been required to provide and cover medically appropriate treatment for transgender patients, including hormone treatment, cancer screening, and surgery.
Both Obama’s and Trump’s interpretations of the law have sparked litigation nationwide, resulting in an often contradicting legal situation.
Even without all of the details given in the announcement, Monday’s action could have far-reaching implications for doctors, hospitals, clinics and other parts of the country’s sprawling healthcare industry.
The new policy takes place amid a spate of government legislative work related to the medical treatment of transgender youth. More than 10 states this year reviewed or passed laws that would prohibit medical providers from providing certain drugs, hormones, or surgery to transgender teenagers. Providers in these states may be bound – subject to potential criminal penalties if they treat the children or federal discrimination penalties if they fail to do so.
“It’s really difficult and challenging with these state laws against trans youth,” said Dr. Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary of Health and senior transgender officer in the Biden Administration. “There is a division between these laws and our interpretation of 1557 to prevent discrimination against these children. There needs to be a legal analysis of this inconsistency. “
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